It’s silly season once again, and we can’t get enough of it… However, the Alexis Sanchez ordeal, although extremely interesting, has begun to bore a number of people due to the sheer length of the process.
Even Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho, said he “does not know” why Alexis Sanchez’s proposed transfer to Old Trafford had not yet been completed – that was on Friday.
Shots were then fired when Sanchez pulled out of Arsenal’s matchday squad on Saturday. When quizzed on the situation, Wenger said, “He didn’t play because you cannot drive up north and play football at the same time.” You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to analyse Wenger’s tone.
Regardless of the frostiness of the situation, it seems the deal will go through today, and fair play to Arsenal – this suits both parties…
“Arsenal are getting rid of a player who doesn’t want to be there, but they are also getting a player whose face maybe didn’t fit at United, but who is much better than he’s shown at United.”
– Alan Shearer
Arsenal Set Free of Sanchez
It’s been no secret that Alexis has been keen on an Arsenal exit for a while now. His body language and general demeanour, alongside a number of lacklustre and uncharacteristic performances throughout this season, have all been blatantly obvious and depicted his discontent.
Arsenal legend Martin Keown said, “They’re no longer enjoying themselves because they’re now questioning why these top players don’t want to be at their club anymore,” in relation to both Sanchez and Ozil’s uncertain futures at Arsenal.
Although there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the latter, it’s Sanchez who has supposedly been the more unsettling presence in the Arsenal camp. Talk of a bust-up with Jack Wilshere after the Englishman confronted him during a game, whilst half of the squad refusing to celebrate with the Chilean international after his goal vs. Crystal Palace all pointed to Arsenal’s No.7 leaving the Emirates. Thus it seems logical that the club now move on without him, and as Arsene Wenger said, ‘Arsenal is 130 old old and many big players have left. Will it go a bit less good? We will see. But there is always life afterwards.”
Since he joined the Gunners in 2014, Arsenal have a win percentage in the Premier League of 68% when Alexis Sanchez has started. Compared with 80% when he hasn’t…
Arsenal Give Mkhitaryan a Chance to Shine
Mkhitaryan has quality in abundance. Awarded Bundesliga Player of the Year in 15/16 before his move to United, he struck a formidable partnership with another player linked with the Gunners – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The pair contributed 59 goals and 31 assists during the 15/16 Bundesliga season.
Arsenal’s attacking platform can give Mkhitaryan the chance to demonstrate his creative prowess and rejuvenate both his career, and reputation of being one of Europe’s finest playmakers. The freedom he is likely to receive from Wenger’s fluid structure will be a stark contrast to the rigid style he played in with Mourinho. Arsenal fans are licking their lips at the prospect of watching Mkhitaryan link up with Ozil and Lacazette going forward.
In 2009 Mkhitaryan was quoted saying, “I like their attacking play and fast style. Moreover, Arsène Wenger puts faith in young players while demanding results at the same time. I like that and want to play there one day.”
Perhaps it is the perfect fit for the Armenian international then?
Sanchez Is Happy Again And Will Play Like It
Sanchez failed to hide the fact he wanted out of the Emirates. When he’s on it, there’s no denying he’s absolute top-drawer and he can bring real quality to United. What’s more, he’s a grafter and will run non-stop for 90 minutes, which Mourinho will love. It’s for this reason that I think he’ll walk into the starting line up but at whose expense is the real question? A selection headache that Jose will relish, I’m sure.
Alexis will also bring Man Utd goals, as he averaged just under a goal every two games for Arsenal. He’s found the net 80 times in 166 appearances. With the Premier League seemingly City’s to lose, Mourinho will certainly have his eyes set on European glory and Sanchez’s firepower and Champions League experience can certainly help take United deep in the tournament.
It’s been one of the most stretched out and publicised transfer sagas for many years and has contained many a false summit; yet, I imagine both parties will be pleased with the way it’s concluded.
Man Utd get their man and remove a player who has failed to fit the Jose mould, whilst Arsenal have removed a player that Keown has described as a ‘cancer’ in the dressing room. And almost by luck, they have gained a player who has a lot to prove, and will likely thrive in the Wenger system.
Where a door closes, a window opens. It was great to see Arsenal pur against Palace on Saturday. They managed to attain a level of coherence and cleanness that they have all too rarely reached this season. Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Alex Iwobi wove mesmerising triangles behind Lacazette as he made his trademark runs in behind.
Alexis’ departure may make Arsenal less potent in attack, but it will ensure a more balanced line-up whereby the team can find their character once more – and the additions of Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang will only add to that.